EIB surpasses investment milestone in the Western Balkans by investing €1.2bn in 2023

By bne IntelliNews February 13, 2024

EIB Global, the financial arm of the European Investment Bank (EIB) for activities beyond the EU, set a new record by investing €1.2bn in the Western Balkans in 2023, the EIB said on February 9.

This marked an increase of €365mn compared to the previous year. The funds were channelled into sustainable and energy transition projects, aligning with the region's goals for EU accession, economic development, climate resilience, and enhanced connectivity.

Kyriacos Kakouris, EIB vice-president responsible for the region, highlighted the collaborative efforts with the European Commission, stating, “In close cooperation with the European Commission, we are pleased to provide an impressive €475mn in grants under the Western Balkans Investment Framework and the EIB’s Economic Resilience Initiative.”

The lion's share of the funds, accounting for 58% (€693mn), was allocated to the development of safer and sustainable transportation, with a focus on railway lines in Serbia (Belgrade-Nis) and North Macedonia (Kriva Palanka-Bulgarian border).

The EIB also committed additional funding for urban transport modernisation in Sarajevo and a road rehabilitation and safety project in Serbia.

Moreover, €275mn (23% of total financing in 2023) was dedicated to supporting small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the Western Balkans. The remainder of the funds will contribute to energy, water, healthcare, and education projects.

Vice-President Kakouris expressed gratitude for the partnerships forged under Team Europe, emphasising the positive impact on the region's development. He anticipates the rollout of the Commission’s proposed New Growth Plan, expecting it to expedite key reforms and strengthen regional initiatives.

In addition to financial support, the EIB provided crucial technical advisory assistance for a water distribution project in Tirana and a climate action credit line for SMEs in North Macedonia. The bank's commitment to the region extends to the EU-financed JASPERS programme, which is expected to triple its technical advisory capacity over the next six years, with a budget of €20mn.

Notably, 61% of the projects signed in 2023 directly contribute to climate action and environmental sustainability, aligning with the EIB’s climate goals. The bank initiated new projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean energy infrastructure to further advance its commitment to a green transition in the region.

At the COP28 climate change conference, EIB Global unveiled a new approach aimed at increasing financing and advisory services globally to support a just transition and just resilience. The initial focus will be on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

The bank also joined the signatories of a Declaration on the Just Transition Investment Platform for North Macedonia, aiming to mobilise up to €3bn to accelerate the country’s deployment of 1.7 GW in renewable energy capacity by 2030.

EIB Global's commitment to fostering economic growth extends to its collaboration with commercial banks and national development institutions in providing €275mn in affordable credit for SMEs. This initiative aims to facilitate expansion, job creation, and improvement in the social and climate impact of these businesses. Some credit lines even include a "green" component, supporting clean energy and climate action projects in the private sector.

Recognising the importance of resilience for SMEs in the region, the European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the EIB Group, initiated the WB EDIF Guarantee Facility for SME Resilience, expected to unlock approximately €700mn for SMEs.

With this latest round of investments, the EIB Group's total investment in the private sector in the Western Balkans has now exceeded €6bn, solidifying its commitment to the region's economic prosperity and sustainable development.

 

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